Television

Anne with an E explores Mi'kmaq First Nation history in P.E.I.

The cast and creators of Anne with an E reflect on the Indigenous storyline in season three.

“I just didn’t want to be a part of another whitewashed version of history,” says creator Moira Walley-Beckett

Anne with an E: Exploring First Nations History

3 years ago
Duration 2:54
A look at one of this season's storylines.

In season three of the beloved coming-of-age series, Anne with an E, we meet Ka'kwet, an independent, resilient Mi'kmaq girl. Played by Kiawenti:io Tarbell, a Mohawk actor from Akwesasne, she befriends Anne Shirley-Cuthbert, and pulls us into a dark side of Canada's history.

The Mi'kmaq First Nation have been in PEI for at least 10,000 years, according to the Mi'kmaq Confederacy. While the French and English settlers arrived in the early 1700s, and engaged the Mi'kmaq in treaties, the Mi'kmaq assert that they never bargained away the land or their rights to it.

The storyline touches on the Mi'kmaq experience of discrimination and residential schools. At a time when Anne is looking to find out where she comes from, Ka'kwet knows her identity all too well and has it taken from her.

Kiawenti:io Tarbell, a Mohawk actor from Akwesasne plays Ka'kwet in Anne with an E.

"The Canadian government made massive mistakes and caused tremendous pain that many, many people are still feeling today," says Miranda de Pencier, Executive Producer of Anne, "and that affects all of us in the country."

The creator of the series, Moira Walley-Beckett, hand-picked Mohawk filmmaker and writer Tracey Deer to co-write the third season. 

Brandon Oakes, who plays Aluk, another Mi'kmaq character in the season says he was really happy with the outcome. 

"Moira was open to conversations about how we approach things," says Oakes, "and it was a great experience to find a writer that was open like that." 

Dana Jeffrey, who plays the character Okwatnuk, says her only hesitation came from wanting to do the storyline justice "because it is such a heavy topic." 

"In everything we do, we carry our histories of our ancestors with us," says Jeffrey. "Anytime we tell a story, or are in a role that is exploring our histories and our truth, we already have a level of understanding that's already a part of us."

Watch the third season of Anne with an E on CBC Gem.

Anne with an E: Indigenous Issues

3 years ago
Duration 2:12
More details on the storyline.

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